US retail sales fell -0.2% in April from the previous month but were up 2.0% from April 2007.
Remember that retail sales are reported in nominal dollars. As the chart from Calculated Risk shows below, adjusted for inflation, retail sales were actually negative on a year over year basis in April.
A closer look at the composition of retail sales for the month of April shows that most categories were either flat or down with the exception of food and gas. The only reason those categories were up of course is because of rising prices.
All in all a very uninspiring report on the state of the US consumer. The consumer continues to face a number of headwinds and whilst rebate checks will prop up spending for a few months, the medium term outlook remains grim for the US consumer.